Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one of the last politicians in the country with any standing to opine on what other Americans owe any race, but that hasn’t stopped her from taking every opportunity she sees to prove she’s as woke as anyone else in the burgeoning Democrat primary field.
One week after her 2020 competitor Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed reparations for slavery, Harris told the New York Times that she too believes some living Americans should have to pay other living Americans for horrible things dead Americans did to other dead Americans over a century and a half ago:
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“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” she said. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”
Ms. Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery — a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.
The Warren campaign declined to give further details on that backing, but it came amid her calls for the federal government to provide special home-buying assistance to residents of communities that were adversely affected by “redlining,” the discriminatory practice of denying mortgages, usually in poor and nonwhite areas.
First, it’s hilarious to see this coming from Warren of all people, whom one could argue has harmed living racial minorities by falsely claiming Cherokee ancestry, thereby reaping benefits and other advantages that would have otherwise gone to actual Native Americans.
Second, slave reparations are clearly unjust. People are responsible for what they do to others, not what their ancestors did to past generations (assuming a reparations scheme even bothers to target confirmed descendants of slaveowners and not simply anyone who’s white). Collective guilt is a poisonous fiction that does nothing but breed resentment, division, and obsession with the past.
Third, as monstrously evil as slavery was, in some ways the trade that brought so many blacks to America planted the seeds for its own reparation. In 1995, Dinesh D’Souza quoted two champions of equality powerfully on this point:
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Black feminist author Zora Neale Hurston: “my ancestors who lived and died in it are dead. The white men who profited by their labor and lives are dead also. I have no personal memory of those times, and no responsibility for them. Neither has the grandson of the man who held my folks. . . . I have no intention of wasting my time beating on old graves. . . . I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negroes who hold that nature somehow has given them a low-down dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. . . . Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and that is worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it.”
A similar position was elaborated by Booker T. Washington, who was born a slave but went on to become the most powerful black statesman and educator in the United States: “Think about it: We went into slavery pagans; we came out Christians. We went into slavery pieces of property; we came out American citizens. We went into slavery with chains clanking about our wrists; we came out with the American ballot in our hands. . . . Notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, we are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe.”
Finally, if Elizabeth Warren really wanted to improve the lives of black Americans, she would challenge her own party’s insistence on policies that keep so many of them in government dependency and force them to settle for failing, union-dominated school districts (to name just two examples). But she won’t, because to the Left, blacks are just another identity-politics group, whose value begins and ends with how reliably they vote for progressivism.
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